Most publishing people are back now from Los Angeles, where they got together over the weekend with thousands of booksellers and got them familiar with the biggest titles in their catalogs. All this was for Book Expo, a convention that happens every spring. This year, the atmosphere at the show was positively geriatric, its obsolescence never harder to ignore and its purpose never less tangible.
We’ll have our own account in this Wednesday’s paper, but in the meantime, a sampling of coverage from elsewhere:
The best summary of the weekend by far appears on the online industry bulletin Publisher’s Lunch. Site manager Michael Cader describes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s disappointing Friday, writing in what is uncharacteristically vivid and impassioned language that he “showed himself as bold enough and strong enough to show up in front of the industry that launched his enterprise and stick a big fat thumb directly in their eyes. And perhaps so lost in his own world that maybe he didn’t realize how insulting it was to offer book professionals (and booksellers who compete with him) a warmed-over version of the Kindle pitch he’s been making since last fall as if no one had heard of the device.”
Cader also reports that hundreds of catering staff walked off the job on Saturday as part of labor dispute with their company, forcing the show’s organizers to pick up the trays and bring them around to all the author lunches themselves. Also he went to the Prince show! He notes there were lots of tall ladies there wearing napkins, and also Babyface was there.
In Publisher’s Weekly, veteran publishing reporter Jim Milliot reports lower-than-normal attendance and quotes an anonymous publisher as saying it was a “fair fair.” Some more on that in the LA Times, which calls the whole thing “subdued.”
And in the Times, Hollywood reporter Ed Wyatt pinch hits for regular books reporter Motoko Rich and files a story focusing on the Kindle as a source of industry anxiety. He quotes Simon & Schuster chair Carolyn Reidy and Penguin CEO David Shanks as saying that e-books are selling way better than they used to, and a bookseller as saying that their growing popularity is a threat to his business. In the AP, Hillel Italie has Mr. Shanks saying, "I think when this is over, we’re going to do some soul searching. There are people in this hall who have spent way more than a million dollars at a time when we all should be pinching pennies."